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Former President Donald Trump

Regulation and Compliance > Legislation

House Panel Votes to Release Trump's Tax Returns to the Public

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A House committee voted to release Donald Trump’s tax information to the public, capping a three-year legal saga initiated by Democrats to obtain and release the former president’s closely held financial documents.

Tuesday’s action by the Ways and Means Committee — over the objections of the panel’s Republicans — comes in the waning days of the House Democratic majority and one day after Trump was referred for criminal prosecution by another House panel.

The double whammy adds to what’s been a bad six-week stretch for Trump politically, during which he was blamed for the GOP’s disappointing midterm election results and had what critics called a lackluster 2024 campaign launch marred by controversies.

The panel, which has an eight-seat Democratic majority, agreed on a party-line vote to release information from Trump’s personal and business tax returns from 2015 to 2020. Democrats first requested the documents in 2019 to help aid an investigation into the annual audit of presidents. After a lengthy court battle, the Ways and Means Committee obtained the financial filings late last month.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday when the full set of documents would be available.

Texas Representative Kevin Brady, the committee’s top Republican, said releasing the information “will set a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president, and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans.”

Though candidates for the US presidency aren’t required by law to show voters their tax returns, they have done so for decades as a gesture of transparency. Trump was the exception.

Trump has said that, at the advice of his lawyers, he wouldn’t release his tax documents while he’s under audit by the Internal Revenue Service — and he says he has been audited constantly since 2004. There is no law that prevents tax returns under audit from being made public.

Trump has also said there’s “nothing to learn from” his returns, that they are “extremely complex” so people “wouldn’t understand them,” and that Americans who aren’t reporters don’t “care at all” about what’s in them.

The tax code allows the chairmen of the congressional tax committees to request the returns of any taxpayer, including the president. That information can then be made public by a majority vote of the committee. The tax returns have been very closely held because releasing tax information without authorization is a felony punishable by prison time.

Trump’s unwillingness to release the documents has heightened speculation about what information about loans, business ties or his wealth they could contain.

Much of Trump’s financial picture became public two years ago, when weeks ahead of the 2020 election the New York Times published excerpts of Trump’s tax returns that showed he paid minimal taxes, including paying no income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years because of large losses that offset any profits.

The New York Times report said that many of Trump’s businesses are struggling, with him putting more money into the firms than he’s taking out, and that he earned millions abroad during his time in the White House, including from authoritarian-leaning countries such as the Philippines and Turkey. Trump dismissed the reporting as “totally fake news.”

(Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg)

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